Ag Sciences faculty members honored for teaching excellence

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has recognized five faculty members for outstanding undergraduate teaching. The awards were presented at a recent college-wide ceremony.

--Jude Lui, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, received the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Teaching Award of Merit. Lui, who joined the Penn State faculty in 2007, is program coordinator for the Agricultural Systems Management major and minor and for the Off-Road Equipment minor. He also advises two student clubs.

In nominating him for the award, Paul Heinemann, head of the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, cited Lui's dedication to improving his craft. "Dr. Lui has engaged in several workshops and seminars to help improve his teaching abilities," he said. "In peer evaluations, he has improved in every category, especially in 'effectiveness in providing a conducive learning environment.'

"He has shown exemplary teaching and service to students that deserve to be recognized."

--Dale Olver, instructor in dairy and animal science, is the recipient of the Paul R. and Joan M. Shellenberger Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Olver is involved with teaching, student recruitment and state dairy 4-H programs. He teaches the introductory Animal Science 201 course, coaches the Penn State Dairy Judging Team and co-advises the Dairy Science Club.

Olver has contributed to the Dairy Science Club's long history of success, according to Terry Etherton, head of the Animal Science Department, who nominated him for the award. The club has received the annual Outstanding Student Affiliate Chapter Award from the American Dairy Science Association 10 times since 1998.

"Dale is a multtalented, dedicated and hard-working individual who is a remarkably gifted and accomplished teacher," Etherton said. "Our students have the highest respect for him and his advice."

Three faculty members received Community of Teaching Excellence awards:

--Mark Brennan is an associate professor of agricultural and extension education and rural sociology. Recently named the UNESCO Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development by the United Nations, he is an exemplary teacher who has performed at an outstanding level, noted Rama Radhakrishna, professor of agricultural and extension education.

"Dr. Brennan's high level of expertise and instructional ability has been recognized by others," he said. "In 2010, Dr. Brennan was selected as a Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty -- a great recognition to further enhance his potential for facilitating leadership studies across the globe and carry out research with honors students.

"He is a superb teacher who attracts students as evidenced by steadily increasing enrollments in leadership education and development courses."

--Chad Dechow, associate professor of dairy cattle genetics, teaches all or parts of several courses offered by the Department of Animal Science, including Principles of Animal Breeding, Dairy Problem Solving, Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Selection, Dairy Farm Management Systems and Introduction to Dairy Science.

"Based on student evaluations and comments, peer evaluations and my own assessment, Chad is a superb teacher," his department head, Terry Etherton, said. "He exemplifies the spirit of excellence in teaching by actively involving undergraduate students in a variety of academic programs and opportunities."

Etherton also cited Dechow's work in co-advising student clubs and the Penn State Dairy Judging Team. "He is well prepared, terrific in communicating with students and has a wonderful knack for engaging students, both in the classroom and after class."

--W. Burt Staniar, assistant professor of equine science, "is a remarkable young faculty member who is incredibly passionate about teaching," said Etherton.

He credits Staniar with energizing the department's undergraduate equine science teaching program. In particular, he points to Staniar's success in creating the Penn State Equine Research Team, an initiative designed to provide opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research projects.

"Now a formally approved undergraduate student organization at Penn State, the team has grown from seven members in the spring of 2008 to about 60 members," Etherton said. "Some of the students on the team have been co-authors of papers published in the peer-reviewed literature as well as abstracts presented at various national meetings.

"The team has been very effective for recruiting students in the Animal Science major and the Equine Science minor," he said.

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Last Updated May 20, 2013